Review: Kobo Arc 10HD tablet

Handout image of the Kobo Arc 10HD. (Kobo)

While insatiable bibliophiles might enjoy the convenience of carrying hundreds, if not thousands, of books at once, some readers are looking for an e-reader that can do more.

Kobo continues to capitalize on the urge to multitask with three new offerings in its fall Arc lineup. The crown jewel of the bunch, the Arc 10HD, boasts a visual experience meant for the engaged and passionate reader. This isn’t your mother’s e-reader; I own a Kobo Touch, and Kobo has moved so far beyond (the still cool) e-ink that my handy little device seems like a piece of dinosaur tech. The 10HD, in comparison, is most definitely a tablet.

First off, everything about this device is just so darn pretty. The Arc 10HD has an edge-to-edge glass screen and slick beveling in the back makes it easy to grip. Flip it on and the Reading Life dashboard lets you flip through current books, magazines and articles stored via Pocket without having to hunt. The Kobo Arc 10HD offers 16G of storage and specs give it a battery life of 9.5 hours with up to 25 days in standby.

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The main bonus to a 10-inch tablet is a better experience reading magazines and comics, and again, the Arc 10HD looks great. The 2560 x 1600 HD+ display offers crisp images for more visual-driven media, and built-in guided reading lets you scan through longer articles without having to do a disorienting zoom-and-pan. Most pages load in just a moment or two thanks to the 1.8 GHz Nvidia Tegra 4 Quad-Core processor.

Other books and magazines are stored on a bookshelf-style menu accessed with a simple right-to-left swipe. Collections, my favourite feature of the Arc 10HD, are also found the shelf. Interested in Doctor Who, for example? Pull up the latest 50th anniversary trailer from YouTube, find a couple series-inspired recipes and check out the latest offerings from Kobo’s bookstore. All these things can be stored in one collection for easy reference.

If you’re hitting the books, the Arc 10HD gives rather seamless page turns and a bunch of options to customize the reading experience. The option to highlight in four colours and take notes is an English major’s dream – particularly if he or she takes advantage of the collections feature to store related research. I was also impressed with the surprisingly accurate voice-to-text note option. I did notice a bit of finicky responsiveness in highlighting, and that gorgeous screen does give off a bit of glare that is more noticeable reading page after page of text.

Handily, the Arc 10HD does the job for casual browsing and video viewing. Apps (the tablet is Google Play certified) are found on a handy side rail. This Kobo also makes sharing what you’re reading simple, with the ability to post on various social media sites with just a few taps.

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Cool features aside, the first thing I noticed holding the device is its weight, and this might be its biggest deterrent. At 627 grams, the Arc 10HD has some heft to it – perhaps a bit too much for my dainty wrists to handle. The screen does dig into the palms if you’re holding it for a while, and there are a couple software quirks to work out. I had a magazine unexpectedly close on me, for instance, and the bookmarks dropdown on the default Kobo browser has an unfortunate typo.

Verdict: Kobo has leapt into the tablet market by creating one with readers in mind. But it’s hard to tell if this device will work well for lazy Sundays spent immersed in a good book.

The 16G Kobo Arc 10HD retails for $399.99.

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